Rogers County Commissioner Says He Welcomes Grand Jury Investigation

Tuesday, August 27th 2013, 9:59 pm
By: News On 6

Some elected officials in Rogers County say they're looking forward to vindication after they were named in a grand jury petition.

Six residents filed the petition over allegations of corruption. If they get enough signatures, the group wants a grand jury to decide whether District Attorney Janice Steidley should be removed from office.

"There is doubt if the county government is running as it should be," said Sheriff Scott Walton.

Walton and five others say they want a grand jury investigation to restore public trust in Rogers County.

"I think there is a distrust for county government and, before long, I think that's cancerous and spills over into people's ideas that maybe other parts of county government aren't operating the way they should," the sheriff said.

The petition names District Attorney Janice Steidley, three of her assistants and two county commissioners.

8/26/2013 Related Story: Sheriff Asks For Grand Jury To Investigate Rogers County DA, 2 Commissioners

It accuses the DA's office of witness tampering, plotting to wiretap employees' offices, sabotaging the career of a Claremore cop who criticized the DA, destroying government records, misleading judges, depriving the parents of child victims from knowing plea deals for suspects, delaying sex crimes prosecutions and more.

Steidley did not want to interview, but says: "The allegations against our office are baseless and pathetic. My office and I have done nothing more than do our jobs, and we have been transparent in doing so."

County commissioners are accused of making purchases without getting bids and using county equipment for personal use.

Commissioner Mike Helm welcomes an investigation.

"Any time we can be transparent before the people, we are going to do that. That's why the people have put me back in office for three times," Helm said.

The petition also accuses Helm of accepting campaign money from corporations with county contracts.

Helm said he's already been cleared by the OSBI and the state auditor, and he stands by the other elected officials named in the petition.

"We aggressively look forward to being vindicated and then taking on the cases forward for malice, slander and malfeasance," Helm said.

Petitioners have four days before a judge rules if the petition is valid and then 45 days to collect 3,000 signatures to seat a grand jury.

The Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court has been asked to name an outside judge to review the petition.

Read the 13-page grand jury petition filed Monday